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Singapore hopes to develop consensus on an overall approach to Asean's challenges: PM Lee

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Singapore does not expect all regional issues to be resolved during its chairmanship of Asean, but it hopes to develop consensus on an overall approach to them, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

[SINGAPORE] Singapore does not expect all regional issues to be resolved during its chairmanship of Asean, but it hopes to develop consensus on an overall approach to them, said Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong.

He was addressing leaders and delegates from the regional grouping's 10 member states at a working dinner at the Istana on Friday (April 27), as part of the 32nd Asean summit.

PM Lee said Singapore hopes to work with its Asean partners to tackle shared concerns, including growing transboundary threats such as terrorism, climate change and cybersecurity."We do not expect to resolve all the issues in the span of our chairmanship, but we hope to prompt a productive discussion and develop a consensus on an overall approach, as crystallised in our vision statement in order to take Asean forward," he said.

The prime minister added that Singapore hopes to put forth tangible initiatives that will contribute to a more "resilient and innovative" Asean - in line with the themes of its chairmainship this year.

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Besides strengthening Asean's collective resilience against transboundary threats, PM Lee also spoke of the need to "make use of technology and innovation as source of growth and development to improve our peoples' lives".

Present at the dinner was Brunei Sultan Hassanal Bolkiah, Cambodian Prime Minister of Cambodia Hun Sen, Indonesian President Joko Widodo, Prime Minister of Laos Thongloun Sisoulith, Myanmar President Win Myint, Philippines President Rodrigo Duterte, Prime Minister of Thailand Prayut Chan-o-cha and Prime Minister of Vietnam Nguyen Xuan Phuc.

Malaysia was represented by its former Deputy Prime Minister Musa Hitam. Malyasian Prime Minister Najib Razak will not attend the summit, which coincides with nomination day ahead of Malaysia's general election.

The dinner was followed by a plenary session chaired by PM Lee.

At the summit, the leaders will discuss the regional grouping's top priorities, opportunities and challenges.

They are expected to endorse and release statements during the summit, as well as agree on details of the preliminary phase of the Asean smart cities network.

The smart cities network - Singapore's flagship initiative as Asean chair - aims to better connect digital infrastructure and services like e-payments across the region.

The leaders will also discuss regional and international developments.

These will likely include maritime cooperation and security in the South China Sea, the security situation on the Korean peninsula, and the humanitarian crisis in Myanmar's Rakhine state.

Earlier on Friday, foreign ministers from the Asean countries discussed security issues at the Asean Political-Security Community council meeting, chaired by Singapore's Foreign Minister Vivian Balakrishnan.

THE STRAITS TIMES